Leaky Gut Syndrome in Pets

Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) is a problem in people and animals alike. And recent research is pointing to LGS as a possible causative agent in many previously unrelated diseases.

What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

The GI track (or alimentary canal in medical jargon) should be thought of as an internal passageway within the body that connects the environment at each end. When thought of this way, we realize that food and other ingesta in the intestines are actually OUTSIDE the body. To actually enter the body food nutrients and other molecules need to cross the gut wall and enter the blood stream. Besides the digestion and absorption of nutrients, one of the major functions of the gut wall is to make sure that it is allowing the proper nutrients to enter, while keeping toxins, pathogens, and other noxious substances out. When the gut fails to keep these negative molecules out of the body we end up with a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome.

What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?

The GI wall is made up of multiple layers, and these layers differ depending on the part of the GI track they’re located in, for example in the stomach, small intestine, or large intestine. However, one common component of the entire alimentary canal is the interior lining, called the mucosa. In the small and large intestines the cells of the mucosa are very tightly packed together, forming a bond called Tight Junctions (TJs). Tight Junctions have the primary specific function of preventing toxins and pathogens from entering the blood stream inappropriately. It is damage to these tight junctions that is the main culprit in Leaky Gut Syndrome. TJs can be damaged from a multitude of different causes. Any type of environmental insult can – in theory – cause damage to TJ’s, and thus precipitate LGS. These include pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, environmental toxins as well as manmade chemicals in many of the pet foods we feed, as well as free radicals and other toxic molecules from incomplete digestion of otherwise appropriate feeds. Many (if not most) of the feeds we feed our pets are highly processed dry kibble. This heat processing can affect the digestibility of these feeds. Add to that the fact that many of the cheaper diets have added chemicals, colorings, and preservatives, and you realize the intestinal lining of the modern pet is under attack by a barrage of insults that nature never meant for it to face.

Leaky Gut Syndrome and Systemic Disease

LGS is a well-documented disease process in both veterinary and human medicine. On the human side research is currently ongoing to try to discern its role in multiple systemic diseases. It is now hypothesized that many autoimmune diseases can be at least partially attributed to LGS. And several studies are now pointing to a potential role for LGS in the pathogenesis of Type I Diabetes and Celiac Disease. On the veterinary side, research is lagging. However, there is no reason to believe that the same causative link will not be found between LGS and systemic disease similar to the findings in human medicine. Skin allergies, certain forms of arthritis, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and many other conditions may be found to have a link to LGS. If this is true, it opens up a whole avenue of possibilities for treatment and prevention of these diseases.

New Treatment for Lymphoma and Other Pet Cancers

A vaccine induced fibrosarcoma in a cat
Fibrosarcoma in a cat

Within the last six months a new treatment has come online for lymphoma in both dogs and cats. It is called ImmuneFx, and in essence it uses the pet’s own cancer cells to create a vaccine, which is then injected into the pet, causing its own immune system to destroy the cancer.

This form of treatment has been in the research phase for at least 20 years, but only recently has an actual therapeutic protocol been approved by the FDA. The company that has pioneered and licensed this therapy is Morphogenesis, Inc, and they are located right here in Tampa.

The Technology

The protocol for treatment involves surgery to obtain a tissue biopsy of the tumor. In a case like lymphoma, we would take out an enlarged lymph node. In a solid mass cancer, such as a fibrosarcoma, we would remove as much of the effected tissue as possible.

That harvested tissue is then sent to the company for processing. From the tissue provided they “infect” the cancer cells with DNA from a specific type of bacteria. After that they grow a homogenous culture of these “infected” cancer cells and produce a serum that contains these infected cancer cells.

We then take that serum and administer it to the pet. Inside the patient the bacterial DNA that has been added to the cancer cells then programs the immune system to eliminate these cells and any like them. This tricks the body into attacking the cancer cells at all levels.

Cancers Affected and Treatment Outcomes

To date the company has successfully treated over 20 different types of solid and liquid cancers, and research is continuing on many others.

The cancers treated successfully to date include:

  • Feline Fibrosarcoma
  • Canine Hemangiosarcoma
  • Canine Nerve Sheath Sarcoma
  • Canine Mammary Tumor
  • Canine Histiocytic Sarcoma
  • Canine Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Canine B Cell Lymphoma
  • Canine T Cell Lymphoma
  • Feline T Cell Lymphoma
  • Canine Fibrosarcoma
  • Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma
  • Feline Chondrosarcoma
  • Canine Hemangiopericytoma
  • Canine Osteosarcoma
  • Equine Melanoma
  • Canine Transitional Cell Carcinoma
  • Canine Adenocarcinoma
  • Canine Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma
  • Canine Osteochondrosarcoma

Success rates depend on many factors, including:

  • Type of cancer or tumor being treated
  • Presence or absence of concurrent therapies, such as chemo
  • Stage of cancer – earlier in the cancer process has a much better prognosis
  • Overall health of the patient, including immune system status

In general, long term survival rates range from less than 30% to well over 80%.  That may or may not sound like great success to you, but you have to keep in mind there is little or no side effects to the treatment, and once the biopsy surgery is over, the treatments are very easy for the pet. Treatment consists of eight separate injections given over a period of time that varies depending on the cancer being treated. For lymphoma, it’s one injection daily for eight weeks.

So if your pet is diagnosed with a cancer that carries an otherwise poor prognosis, this gives us one more arrow in our quiver of treatments to help give them a longer and better quality of life.

Edit: At Acupet Veterinary Care we don’t service the equine industry. However, ImmuneFX is available for several equine cancers, as well, including Equine Melanoma.

Canine Hydrotherapy

Dogs that are suffering from hip or elbow dysplasia, anterior cruciate ligament injuries, tibial plateau leveling osteotomy, osteoarthritis, chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy, femoral head ostectomy, orthopedic conditions and spinal injuries can benefit from hydrotherapy. Additionally, dogs that are recovering from fractures, trauma, neurological damage and other injuries, as well as those who are participating in post-op recovery, have experienced decreased recuperation periods, decreased pain perception, increased range of motion in the active state, reduction during rest period, and increased release of endorphins, which helps your pet’s quality of life.

What is Canine Hydrotherapy?


Hydrotherapy for humans has proven to be extremely beneficial for people who are required to participate in physical therapy. Essentially, hydrotherapy utilizes the natural properties of water, including viscosity, hydrostatic pressure, resistance and buoyancy to improve physical functioning. Hydrotherapy is not necessarily a new concept to the veterinary practice, as all the way back to the early 1900’s there were inventions that provided this therapy to work horses to ensure that they could return to the fields faster and stronger after an injury.

Long-Term Benefits of Hydrotherapy

Some of the short-term benefits of hydrotherapy were already discussed; however they are not the only benefits for canines who partake in hydrotherapy. The long-term benefits that dogs will experience from hydrotherapy include: increased range of motion in joints, increased muscle strength, prevention of secondary complications, improved cardiovascular health, decreased inflammation and pain, the potential to regain normal function faster, degenerative diseases may slow in progression, and your dog will enjoy the socialization as they work toward improving their quality of life.

Hydrotherapy Case Studies

Oliver

Oliver, a shih tzu who fell 6 meters from a balcony to concrete, suffered from multiple injuries, including a fractured pelvis and a punctured lung. Although the orthopedic surgery was successful, Oliver faced months of healing. Rehabilitation included physiotherapy sessions and a home exercise program. After the first stage of recovery was successful, hydrotherapy was added to Oliver’s mending program. Although shih tzus are not necessarily keen to water and swimming, the temperature of the water is kept quite warm and with staff encouragement, Oliver took well to his treatments.

A vital aspect of Oliver’s recovery included rebuilding the muscle mass on his hind legs to create support for his hips and ensure full range of motion. Various techniques and strategies were taught to Oliver, including the ability to shift and gain confidence on a surfboard. He has learned to bear weight on the leg that was injured and his limp has nearly disappeared.

Flint

Flint, a 3 year old German Shepherd, was training to be a K9 cop when his training was suspended due to a stretched anterior cruciate ligament. Flint participated in hydrotherapy to speed recovery time and, despite his trainer’s fears that Flint would never again have a chance at a career as a police dog, was able to return to training toward the end of the training course. Today, he has not only recovered completely, he has also completed his police dog training and is now working a full time career.

Daisy

Daisy, the 5 year old Cocker Spaniel, was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia in 2010. She would experience lameness after long periods of rest or exercise, and this lameness was more pronounced in her left leg. Rather than sending Daisy to the surgery room, she participated in hydrotherapy first. If hydrotherapy did not work to improve her condition, she would need a total hip replacement (THP). Daisy was full of energy and loved to play, but exhibited muscle atrophy and frequently “bunny-hopped” – a very common occurrence in hip dysplasia.

First, she spent time on the water treadmill to address the muscle atrophy. After only the first session, Daisy’s owner reported to us that she was not exhibiting obvious stiffness or lameness anymore. The second session included time in the pool, which Daisy was much more enthusiastic about than the treadmill.

The pool, as it seemed, was the better course of treatment for Daisy, due to the enthusiasm that she displayed. Then, the resistance of the swim jets was incorporated into Daisy’s hydrotherapy regimen to assist with building her muscles and improving range of motion. By her 6 week check-up, Daisy exhibited significantly improved muscle tone and was no longer taking pain medications; we postponed surgery as long as she was doing well with her hydrotherapy. Only two months after she started the hydrotherapy, Daisy was released from the treatment program and functioned with normal exercise at home, just like other dogs her age.

These are true stories about real pets that benefitted from hydrotherapy as a physiological alternative healing method. Studies have revealed that pets who have participated in hydrotherapy have recovered from their injuries, surgeries and ailments 50% to 60% faster than pets that were using other methods of recuperation. Some pets, like in Daisy’s case, may be able to avoid surgery if hydrotherapy is used, while other pets could essentially skip the pain medicine or quickly wean off of it, with the use of hydrotherapy.

Cats and Tinsel

Linear foreign bodyWe all know the yarn about curiosity killing the cat. However, most of us (myself included) don’t know the genesis of that saying. However, we experience it here nearly once every December.

We all know that cats – and especially kittens – are extremely curious animals. They like to investigate anything new, and don’t seem to be bothered at all by any danger that might be present. And the shinier the bauble, the better.

Which brings us to the dangers of December. Cats are naturally attracted to all the shiny ornaments and lights on Christmas trees. They like to bat at them and watch them jiggle, they like to hear them tinkle, and they particularly like the shiny reflections. This last one makes them particularly interested in tinsel.

Tinsel is one of the favorite Christmas tree decorations for most cats to play with. They like to bat at it, pull it down, and especially to chew on it. Quite often, when they do chew it that leads them to swallowing pieces of it, and this often leads to gastric or intestinal foreign bodies.

Specifically, a foreign body formed by tinsel or garland is termed a string, or linear foreign body. Linear foreign bodies are different from, and more severe than, discrete foreign bodies, such as a marble.

Linear foreign bodies form when the tinsel (or other linear object, such as yarn or thread) gets wadded up in the stomach, so that it cannot pass into the intestines. While this primary wad of tinsel is anchored in the stomach, slowly an end of it will feed out and start to migrate down the small intestine. Picture an extension cord wadded in a big ball, and then trying to pull one end of the cord free. Eventually it tightens up the ball of cord, and you can’t pull any more cord free.

This is what happens in the cat’s stomach; the wad of tinsel remains anchored in the stomach, while a section of it is being fed down the intestines. As the intestines contract to try to push the tinsel along, it won’t move due to the anchor back in the stomach. Therefore, the intestine starts to bunch up on the tinsel like an accordion. When this happens, the tinsel gets extremely tight from the tension of the intestinal contractions, and can actually saw through the side of the intestine, causing a septic abdomen.

Needless to say, this is an extremely dangerous situation that requires immediate surgery. That’s why linear foreign bodies – such as tinsel – are so much more severe and imminent emergencies than routine discrete foreign bodies.

So be sure to keep you cat or kitten out of the tree, and away from the ornaments. For households with cats we recommend leaving the bottom two feet of tree bare of any decorations to avoid having any foreign body or decorations related problems.

Guess This Picture

Low cost neuterIt’s time for a game of Guess That Picture. I wish I could say this is all just a bad joke, but some things you just can’t make up.

This week a new client came to us and said that her 8 year old Chihuahua has had a lump that sometimes breaks open and drains blood where his neuter incision is. He was neutered at a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in Kentucky when he was a year old. It’s been draining like this off and on for 7 years(!).

However, just recently the area broke completely open and now she saw exactly what you’re looking at in this picture. Can you guess what it is? (More pictures below.)

When we neuter a dog – the technical name is orchiectomy – we remove both testicles. The testicles are removed through a single incision located just in front of the scrotum.

After the incision is made the testicles are exteriorized one at a time. The spermatic cords – the combination of testicular artery and vein and nerve, as well as the vas deferens – are tied off individually with absorbable suture. Supposedly. After each cord is tied off it is severed and the tied end retracts back up into the abdomen.

After the testicles are removed the subcutaneous tissue and then the skin are closed individually, again with absorbable suture. Some veterinary clinics use tissue adhesive to close the skin because it’s faster and a lot cheaper. However, we’ve found that neuters closed with tissue adhesive are up to five times as likely to come open in the first few days following surgery. So we use a much more modern absorbable suture that a.) almost never comes open after surgery, and b.) absorbs extremely rapidly for the pet’s comfort and owner’s peace of mind.

However, the doctor who did the surgery in this case apparently had his own way of doing things. The piece of plastic that you see in the picture is the culprit that made the skin over the surgery site continue to seep off and on. It is the plastic end connector of a plastic wire tie, otherwise known as a zip tie.

Apparently, this is what the surgeon used to tie off the spermatic cords in lieu of true suture. We can only guess that he used one zip tie on each side and then relied on them to retract firmly into the abdomen where, hopefully, they would remain inert. Who knows. I’ve never in my life heard of anything like this before, but it just goes to show no matter how long you practice, there’s always something new under the sun.

In this case we simply removed the wire tie and debrided and closed the skin routinely. The pet is doing great. On the other hand we’ll probably never know whether there’s another wire tie up in this dog’s abdomen somewhere. If there is, it apparently is not causing any problems. At least not yet.

It’s time for a game of Guess That Picture. I wish I could say this is all just a bad joke, but some things you just can’t make up.

This week a new client came to us and said that her 8 year old Chihuahua has had a lump that sometimes breaks open and drains blood where his neuter incision is. He was neutered at a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in Kentucky when he was a year old. It’s been draining like this off and on for 7 years(!).

However, just recently the area broke completely open and now she saw exactly what you’re looking at in this picture. Can you guess what it is? (More pictures below.)

When we neuter a dog – the technical name is orchiectomy – we remove both testicles. The testicles are removed through a single incision located just in front of the scrotum.

After the incision is made the testicles are exteriorized one at a time. The spermatic cords – the combination of testicular artery and vein and nerve, as well as the vas deferens – are tied off individually with absorbable suture. Supposedly. After each cord is tied off it is severed and the tied end retracts back up into the abdomen.

After the testicles are removed the subcutaneous tissue and then the skin are closed individually, again with absorbable suture. Some veterinary clinics use tissue adhesive to close the skin because it’s faster and a lot cheaper. However, we’ve found that neuters closed with tissue adhesive are up to five times as likely to come open in the first few days following surgery. So we use a much more modern absorbable suture that a.) almost never comes open after surgery, and b.) absorbs extremely rapidly for the pet’s comfort and owner’s peace of mind.

However, the doctor who did the surgery in this case apparently had his own way of doing things. The piece of plastic that you see in the picture is the culprit that made the skin over the surgery site continue to seep off and on. It is the plastic end connector of a plastic wire tie, otherwise known as a zip tie.

Apparently, this is what the surgeon used to tie off the spermatic cords in lieu of true suture. We can only guess that he used one zip tie on each side and then relied on them to retract firmly into the abdomen where, hopefully, they would remain inert. Who knows. I’ve never in my life heard of anything like this before, but it just goes to show no matter how long you practice, there’s always something new under the sun.

In this case we simply removed the wire tie and debrided and closed the skin routinely. The pet is doing great. On the other hand we’ll probably never know whether there’s another wire tie up in this dog’s abdomen somewhere. If there is, it apparently is not causing any problems. At least not yet.

It’s time for a game of Guess That Picture. I wish I could say this is all just a bad joke, but some things you just can’t make up.

This week a new client came to us and said that her 8 year old Chihuahua has had a lump that sometimes breaks open and drains blood where his neuter incision is. He was neutered at a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in Kentucky when he was a year old. It’s been draining like this off and on for 7 years(!).

However, just recently the area broke completely open and now she saw exactly what you’re looking at in this picture. Can you guess what it is? (More pictures below.)

When we neuter a dog – the technical name is orchiectomy – we remove both testicles. The testicles are removed through a single incision located just in front of the scrotum.

After the incision is made the testicles are exteriorized one at a time. The spermatic cords – the combination of testicular artery and vein and nerve, as well as the vas deferens – are tied off individually with absorbable suture. Supposedly. After each cord is tied off it is severed and the tied end retracts back up into the abdomen.

After the testicles are removed the subcutaneous tissue and then the skin are closed individually, again with absorbable suture. Some veterinary clinics use tissue adhesive to close the skin because it’s faster and a lot cheaper. However, we’ve found that neuters closed with tissue adhesive are up to five times as likely to come open in the first few days following surgery. So we use a much more modern absorbable suture that a.) almost never comes open after surgery, and b.) absorbs extremely rapidly for the pet’s comfort and owner’s peace of mind.

However, the doctor who did the surgery in this case apparently had his own way of doing things. The piece of plastic that you see in the picture is the culprit that made the skin over the surgery site continue to seep off and on. It is the plastic end connector of a plastic wire tie, otherwise known as a zip tie.

Apparently, this is what the surgeon used to tie off the spermatic cords in lieu of true suture. We can only guess that he used one zip tie on each side and then relied on them to retract firmly into the abdomen where, hopefully, they would remain inert. Who knows. I’ve never in my life heard of anything like this before, but it just goes to show no matter how long you practice, there’s always something new under the sun.

In this case we simply removed the wire tie and debrided and closed the skin routinely. The pet is doing great. On the other hand we’ll probably never know whether there’s another wire tie up in this dog’s abdomen somewhere. If there is, it apparently is not causing any problems. At least not yet.

Zip-Tie-2
Zip-Tie-3
Zip-Tie-1
Zip-Tie-4
Zip-Tie-7
Zip-Tie-6
Zip-Tie-5

How to Prevent Dental Disease in Your Pet

dental disease in a dog
We see dental disease like this every day. This poor dog has a constant bacterial septicemia from its dirty teeth.

It’s a fact that one of the most common diseases seen by veterinarians today is dental disease.  In fact, it is such a problem that each year, the entire month of February is devoted to promoting dental health and procedures for pets.

Poor dental health not only creates severe oral discomfort for our pets, but also leads to a host of other systemic and potentially very severe health conditions. The tartar that builds up in a cat or dog’s mouth is home to millions of bacteria. As the gums get infected, they allow this bacteria to be seeded into the bloodstream, causing a septicemia. This blood-borne bacteria then gets caught in the capillary beds of internal organs, and sets up infection in those organs. Multiple studies have shown that upwards of 80% of infections in liver, kidneys, and even the heart are caused by dirty teeth and unhealthy gums.

While it is easy to overlook your pet’s dental care, it’s absolutely essential for pet owners to provide appropriate dental care in order to protect the teeth and gums, as well as help to prevent secondary effects on these internal organs.

Common Signs of Dental Disease in Pets

Of course, prevention is always the best option regarding any health condition.  However, it’s important for pet owners to know the warning signs that indicate dental disease has already begun to set in.  Here are a few of the most common symptoms of dental disease in pets:

  • Red and/or irritated gums. Check your pet’s gums from time to time for redness, swelling, or bleeding.
  • A buildup of plaque or tartar on the teeth. Oftentimes this tartar builds heaviest on teeth furthest back in the mouth, where checking the teeth can be difficult, especially on some animals that really resist it.
  • Change in saliva. Though many different things can lead to a change in normal salivation, take note of excessive drooling or discoloration.  If you notice these signs, notify your veterinarian to have your pet’s teeth checked.
  • Bad breath. We are all familiar with “dog breath”.  Even under the best conditions, you aren’t likely to enjoy the way your pooch’s mouth smells, and that’s okay!  However, if there is a lingering offensive odor that you believe is cause for concern, a full dental exam is in order.
  • Wear and Tear. Visual wear and tear on teeth comes with age in any species, but broken or missing teeth can be signs of a bigger problem with your pet’s gums or teeth.
  • Loss of Appetite. A lot of issues can cause your dog to stop eating, all of which should be discussed with your veterinarian immediately.  Regarding dental care, pets (especially dogs) will stop chewing food or toys when their teeth hurt.

The onset of symptoms such as these will likely mean that your pet needs professional veterinary dental care. Remember that the longer you wait, the more your pet suffers.

If there is a buildup of plaque on your pet’s teeth, we will want to do a routine dental cleaning.  This involves general anesthesia and doing a detailed plaque and tartar removal. For the vast majority of our dentals, your pet would be dropped off to our office around 8:00, and in most cases goes home by noon.

Besides these cleanings, there are a lot of things you can do as a pet owner to maintain his healthy teeth and gums and prevent any further deterioration.  Dental care products such as canine toothbrushes, toothpaste, and even mouth wash can all slow down the onslaught of dental disease, and help increase the time between dental cleanings.  When you do dental care at home, always keep an eye out for the warning signs mentioned earlier.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Where dental disease is concerned, a very small amount of home preventive medicine can go a very long way. If you were to look closely at your pets’ mouth (dogs and cats alike), you’ll see that the molars and premolars are not flat on top like ours. Their molars and premolars are peaked like a mountain range. That’s because they are true carnivores, and these teeth are formed more for shredding than grinding.

Because of this anatomic feature, their teeth in the back of their mouths ride over top of one another, rather than meeting flat on top. And because of that, most of tooth surfaces stay relatively free from tartar. All, that is, except the outside of the upper teeth. The outside of the upper teeth do not rub against the bottom teeth or the tongue, and as such they accumulate tartar much, much faster than the rest of the teeth.

That is important to recognize, because that means if we simply focus our preventive care on this surface, we can double or triple the length of time between dental cleanings. And this helps us out immensely, as we’re able to clean the outside of the upper teeth without opening the pet’s mouth. So, if you can simply wipe or brush off the outside of the upper teeth anywhere from once daily to several times a week, you’ll greatly slow the onset of dental disease in your pet.

New Case of the Week Now Posted

Angry bowel loops
Here are several loops of small intestine, including the one that contains the FB. You can see what normal vs. angry looks like.

Our newest Case of the Week involves a pet that belongs to one of our own (unnamed) employees. It’s about her 3 year old dachshund-chihuahua cross that ate the foot off of his toy pig and had to have surgery to have it removed. The moral of the story is that even though your pet routinely chews on ______  (fill in the blank – rags, underwear, socks, carpet, yarn, old shoes, etc.) and never tears them up or swallows them, you still should not provide any toys or chewables that aren’t 100% pet-friendly.  And even though the toy pig in question was made for pets, it’s just not as heavy duty as a Kong or other brand of indestructible toys. In general, if it can be ripped apart, many dogs will find a way to do it. And if they do, we quite often have to do surgery to remove pieces of the destroyed toy.

Click here to see the whole story and more great pictures from surgery.

3-Yr Cat Rabies Vaccine Now Available!

We have just acquired the brand new 3 year feline Purevax rabies vaccine, available exclusively from Merial. We use Merial feline vaccines exclusively to vaccinate our cats, due to the fact that Merial is the only manufacturer that has absolutely NO adjuvant in any of their cat vaccines. You can read a lot more about adjuvant and the cancer it can induce in cats here.

A vaccine induced fibrosarcoma in a cat
Another vaccine induced fibrosarcoma in a cat

Until now, the Merial Purevax cat rabies vaccine was only available as a 1-year vaccine. However, they have recently come out with a 3-year Purevax rabies vaccine for cats. It’s available now here at Acupet Veterinary Care, and just like all the other Merial cat vaccines we use, it is adjuvant-free, so you can rest comfortably, knowing that your feline furry friend is getting the absolute best protection with no chance for vaccine-induced sarcoma.